Apple and HTC just announced a surprise settlement to their ongoing patent litigation, which spanned multiple lawsuits in courts around the world. The deal will see both companies drop all their charges and sign a 10-year patent cross-licensing agreement, which HTC says will "not have a material adverse impact" on its financials — meaning HTC is paying Apple at least some money.
It's completely unexpected news, especially after Apple won a comprehensive billion-dollar victory against Samsung for infringing many of the same patents. But a little reflection reveals that both parties had much more to gain from ending the dispute than from carrying on:
Chances are we won't know the complete list of reasons both parties decided to settle for a long time — the terms of the deal are confidential, and neither company had much to say beyond their terse joint press release. But as it stands, Apple has now settled and reached license agreements with both HTC and Nokia, and only fully litigated the case against Samsung. The only major Apple lawsuit that's left is Motorola, a case that is now against Google directly. We'll see what happens.
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